We all need a little vacation every now and then to escape the daily grind. A vacation—to most people—is synonymous with travel, but you don’t need to book a flight in order to relax or rejuvenate. This summer, plan a “staycation” and help the local economy by experiencing festivals, sporting events, parks, lakes, lodges, resorts or B&Bs close to home. The best part is that you won’t bust your bank account to do it. Read on for a snapshot of some local “staycation” hotspots.
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TWIN CITIES AREA
Padelford Packet Boat Company
Harriet Island, St. Paul
You’ve seen St. Paul on land, now check it out from the water aboard a Padelford Riverboat, celebrating their fortieth season this year. “A lot of people don’t realize there’s wilderness right here in the heart of the Twin Cities,” says Captain Jim Kosmo. “It’s a reminder of what the river was like long ago.”
Guests on a river ride enjoy amazing views of nature in the midst of the Great River National Park, with regular sightings of great blue herons, peregrine falcons, hawks, and bald eagles. They can also learn about the interesting history of the park area during a narrated public cruise.
In addition, there are lunch and dinner cruises available, two-for-one “Margaritas on the Mississippi” cruises (reservations required), the Taste of Minnesota Fireworks Cruise July 2-5, the Irish Fair Dinner and Dance Cruise Aug. 7-9, and private charters for everything from corporate events to family reunions to wedding receptions. “We excel in private parties,” Capt. Kosmo says. “It’s a fun business to be in.”
The staff is professional, friendly, and knowledgeable about the river, the meals are “just as good as any restaurant around,” the sight-seeing is hard to beat, and there are no service charges or hidden fees.
Just being out on the river—the same river that has flowed year after year, century after century—is a unique experience, Capt. Kosmo says. “It never gets boring.”
The Jonathan Padelford, an authentic replica of an 1880 sternwheeler riverboat—along with three other vessels—are available for public and private cruises (accommodating 50 to 710 people) from May through October.
Apple Valley, Minnesota
With more than 2,400 animals, the Minnesota Zoo brings education and entertainment to life. Come see the awesome Africa! exhibit, back by popular demand, from now through Sept. 7. Giraffes, zebras, gemsbok, wildebeest, and ostriches roam a six-acre exhibit, transporting guests to an African savanna. In addition, kids are loving the new splash pad water play area adjacent to Russia’s Grizzly Coast in the Zoo’s renovated central plaza. Another great offering at the Minnesota Zoo is Family Programs, including overnights, classes and camps for kids grades K-12 (and their favorite adults). Adults looking for a fun date night should also check out the Music in the Zoo Concert Series.
Minnesota Monthly Fresh Taste Festival
Nicollet Island Pavilion, Minneapolis
Join us on Aug. 9, 2009 for the Second Annual Minnesota Monthly Fresh Taste Festival, a day-long event to celebrate the best in organic, local and sustainable food products as well as organic and biodynamic wines! Located on the beautiful banks of the Mississippi River at the charming and historic Nicollet Island Pavilion, the festival will be a day filled with a variety of organic food and beverage vendors—including many outstanding local restaurants, food producers, product suppliers, and national wineries.
Take advantage of the one-on-one experience to sample and learn, to enjoy and appreciate the region’s growing movement toward organic and sustainable agriculture.
Uptown Art Fair
Funky. Creative. Original. Fun. Out-of-the-ordinary. Those are just a few words used to describe the annual Uptown Art Fair, set this year from Aug. 7-9 at the blocked-off intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis. Meet the 355 artists chosen to exhibit in this highly-competitive juried art show and buy original works of art in a wide range of price points. In addition to supporting the arts community, visitors can watch free family-friendly performances and enjoy delicious festival food and beverages.
Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center
Guests staying at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center will run out of time before they run out of things to do. Arrowwood features a 30-horse stable, complete with riding ring and trails, an 18-hole golf course, a full-service marina, the Big Splash Indoor Waterpark, Darling Reflections Salon, and Camp Arrowwood for kids ages 4-12. Accommodations range from lodge rooms and suites with lakefront views to luxurious four-bedroom townhomes.
Shooting Star Casino Hotel and Event Center
Come for the day or stay for a week at Shooting Star Casino Hotel and Event Center.
In addition to 1,100 slot machines, a Bingo hall, Blackjack and poker, there is an on-site daycare, Fun Zone arcade, a large atrium with a swimming pool and hot tub, a gift shop, four restaurants, the Sereniitee Spa (great for a massage or facial), a hotel and RV park, and a regular lineup of big-name entertainers like country music legend Merle Haggard, who will be performing at Shooting Star on Thursday, July 9. Come hear the artist who produced such hits as “Okie from Muskogee,” “Workin’ Man’s Blues” and “Mama Tried.” See the website for a full calendar of summer events.